Sioux Lookout fills Legion for all-candidates election forum
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Approximately 150 people packed the Sioux Lookout Legion on May 30 for an all-candidates forum for the upcoming provincial election.
Sioux Lookout’s Anne Saltel posted on Facebook asking if there was going to be an all-candidates’ debate in town. At that point there wasn’t one scheduled, so Saltel took it upon herself to organize one.
Through many phone calls, social media activity, and newspaper ads, Saltel was able to bring all five Kiiwetinoong candidates together at the Legion for a public debate.
“My biggest fear was that nobody was going to show up but, thanks to social media, we got it out there,” Saltel said.
Saltel also mentioned that organizing a debate had even more importance to her because of how new the Kiiwetinoong riding is.
“Especially because this was such a new riding, I needed to know where these candidates stood on issues specific to this riding,” she explained.
Audience members were asked to submit questions, which could be directed at one candidate or all of them.
Kiiwetinoong candidates include Christine Penner Polle representing the Green Party of Ontario, Sol Mamakwa representing the Ontario New Democratic Party, Doug Lawrance representing the Ontario Liberal Party, Clifford Bull representing the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and Kenneth Jones representing the Northern Ontario Party.
Nine questions were chosen ranging from wearing the poppy, to local taxes and electoral referendum. Jason Bailey, who is running as a mayoral candidate in Sioux Lookout, had his question picked as one of the nine that were answered. He said that it was great to see the community, and specifically Saltel, quickly come together to organize the debate. He also mentioned that he was very pleased with the maturity shown by each candidate.
“It was great to see a debate without any hostile candidates. We teach our kids how to play playfully in the sandbox, our adults should be able to do that too when they’re representing our communities on the provincial, federal, and municipal levels,” Bailey explained.
Saltel agreed that the candidates were respectful throughout the night. She wouldn’t even call the event a debate.
“I shouldn’t have even called this a debate because it was really a forum,” she said.
The forum was not only open to the public but it was also livestreamed through Wawatay Television. The livestream link was shared on Facebook for those who may have been out of town and for other residents in the Kiiwetinoong riding.
Kenora MPP Bob Nault was pleased to hear that the forum was available to communities in the North through the livestream, but he hopes to see more improvements made to bring these debates and forums to the Northern communities.
“One of the biggest issues that candidates will face with the new Northern riding is the isolation of 70 per cent of constituents. Livestreaming is certainly an improvement, but there should be all-candidates debates in these major First Nations communities in the North,” Nault explained.
Thanks to Saltel, residents in Sioux Lookout and throughout the Kiiwetinoong riding had an opportunity to learn more about their candidates before June 7. Humbly, Saltel finished by thanking the campaign managers for helping her bring some of the forum ideas to life.
“Thanks to the campaign managers because they had a bunch of ideas, including the Wawatay stream. I’m so happy with how smooth it went. For me, I know it was very helpful to hear these candidates talk about specific issues, and I hope it was helpful for others that either came to watch it or tuned in to the livestream,” Saltel concluded.